I have been thinking about making a game of my own for quite some time now, and I wanted to ask peoples opinions here about what they would personally like to see more of, or perhaps less of, within interactive novels. I know what I would like to see, but not what others would. You may come up with ideas or dynamics that I would not even think about, things that will help improve the game and provide a better experience for any players.
I write this prior to any kind of development; insofar as making the actual game itself, anyway. If anything, I am still playing around with the script, so you have plenty of time to think about it and get back to me, if you wish.
I absolutely love the way that politics plays out. Coalitions, secret deals, agendas everywhere and often only a few points of one meeting a few points of another. My love for the Affairs of the Court series comes primarily from throwing wrenches into internal and external political machines, and using every means at my disposal to further my agenda.
A few other things I love:
Grand, personal, and interpersonal. Give the MC a reason to feel conflicted. Give us clashes of personality, conflicts of interest, hell, outright war! Bloodless or not, conflict greases the gears of drama like nothing else!
Whether these are things to find out about the game itself or things to find out about characters, secrets are never a bad thing to have. The more layers to dive into, the better.
Some of the best games I’ve played are like a bitter fruit. You bite into them, and the stinging causes your eyes to water and your throat to swell, but you keep biting because in the end it’s the good kind of hurting. The more tears as you stand there, eagerly devouring the fruit in front o you, the better.
I share @lovinglydull’s love of politics! Fictional politics, specifically.
I always enjoy the romantic subplots the most out of CoG games, so I would love to see more romance, of course.
What I want most is well-developed characters who really add to the story in their own right instead of simply propping up the protagonist. Characters who could nearly be protagonists of their own novels.
I would love a retelling of some classic work of literature. We got A Midsummer Night’s Dream and it was amazing. A lot of Shakespeare’s plays would work with CoG perfectly. Twelfth Night, for example, or my all time favorite: Much Ado about Nothing. Even some tragedies: imagine playing as Lady Macbeth but being able to change the story with your decisions. Keep your place as queen, kill Macbeth, join the rebels and betray your husband… so many possibilities. Or the famous Romeo and Juliet, but instead of playing as any of them you are a member of one of the two famous families in a time of political tension, blood and star-crossed lovers. Everyone knows how their story ends, but… how does YOUR story end?
Oh, the Twelfth Night would make for an amazing CoG game. The ways you could play with gender, oh, that would be so much fun.
I always loved Lady Macbeth, so being able to play as her, that would be incredible. I think I had to rewrite a scene from the play in my senior year of high school – I can’t recall what the scene was about, but I do remember I somehow brought Lady Macbeth back from the dead.
A game where you can alter how a very well-known story goes, that would certainly be fun.
I had actually just asked myself this the other day because I had gotten to the point where writing my stories had just gotten… stale. A good six-day old bread left to harden on a poor counter-top, packaged left unceremoniously half-tied type of uninspired loaf. Hm, getting away from this weird metaphor, I came to the conclusion that I was so uninspired because I was focusing too much on what I thought was popular instead of writing what I wanted to write and read about.
So I asked myself and came to the conclusion that what I really like (and want to see) in gaming media of all kinds is:
A focus on the characters. Like Fawkes said, a lot of characters come off as only being brought into existence to further the mc. While that’s what characters are kind-of-sort-of supposed to do, as I’ve discovered in my recent endeavors of writing advice, they should also be fully realized and the protagonist of their own life. You should be able to jump into their own perspective and still have a complete story, even if that’s not the story you’re choosing to tell in that instance.
* Building off of this, I wish relationships played a larger role. So often it’s kind of “here’s this character, now choose between this one relationship booster option, or not, for a few choices and if the former then they’ll probably appear again in some future scene and you’ll be in a friendship/romance.” Character arcs can be so powerful and hold so much potential but they are often hidden as side notes to the plot.
Interesting main characters. Now this one is tricky because this median is all about choice. The limitation to this is that because you’re offering such a broad range of options, you can’t really build a strong personality or the driving plot behind a story in the first place - which is some hidden character flaw that becomes fully realized as the story progresses. Usually the mc takes a backseat to other important characters and are kind of forgetful/hard to care about. I would love to see more main characters that are your favorite of the story because of things just outside of their circumstances. (Their situation can most certainly be interesting, like the “chosen one”, but the character themselves usually are difficult to love.)
Emotionally charged plots with developments that you grow attached to. You know when you’re reading a book and you have to put it down before you throw it at a wall because you’re so invested and wow you can’t believe that just happened? I live for that and would love to see more plots that elicit those reactions. The terms I’m using are stolen from Anatomy of a Premise Line by Jeff Lyons, full disclaimer, (and a book I highly recommend!) but there’s a lot of situation vs. stories in game media. The character gets put into a situation that they have to solve, and they go through a trial and then the conflict is resolved, and it’s still really good and exciting, but it isn’t a story. It’s more like a narrative blurb.
But this is just my opinion, and going back to the beginning I’ll reiterate that while it can be important to keep your audience in mind, you have to decide what you would love to play and read about and focus on that. It’ll be so much better and fun when you have your own passions at heart.
I agree! I’m actually working on a Romeo and Juliet game, though you do play the role of Juliet because I’m basic, but in general the more Shakespeare the better. Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, the list goes on and you can’t really go wrong. He had a knack for characters and for deliciously dramatic situations.
I can settle for basic anytime! Where’s the post for that game? I have a need to play a possibly inexistent demo right now
I also agree with what you said about relationships. In most games is more like a… sucession of scenes than a real relationship. Stage 1: they have no opinions. Stage 2: Oh you were nice to them and flirted once, now they have a crush on you. Stage 3: You kiss and are locked in the romance. Stage 4: That’s it. This is your partner. What? You wanted more development? Go look somewhere else, dear!
@Fawkes and @Kirlett (Not to derail the thread) it’s not shakespeare, but I’ve got a finished game which is based on Oedipus Rex with alternative endings that I am very much still looking for feedback on if you feel like having a look. (Just thought I’d suggest it as you were saying that COG’s with a twist on the classic works would be good). The Saga of Oedipus Rex (Released)
As what I’d like to see in an interactive novel? A story that is constantly evolving along with NPCs that evolve steadily throughout the whole game, some horror and/or Lovecraftian elements to it… A game which focuses on psychological horror or exploring the depths of the human mind or a god-game where you play as a goddess amongst other beings. I haven’t seen many CS games focusing on horror or the human mind in general.
Even a game focusing on mad-science or human biology would be fantastic! Or maybe a game involving a group of scientists exploring human biology would be cool as well. The final CS game I also would like is a game where you are a mad-scientist that creates hybrid beasts.